LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

FRA’s 2nd LGBTI Survey points to clear need for decisive and immediate action by the EU

There has been little progress in the lived experience of LGBTI people in Europe over the past seven years. This is a clear message coming out of the report on the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)  2nd LGBTI survey published yesterday.

The survey of 140,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people reveals that, overall, more LGBTI people felt discriminated against in the previous year (43 %), compared to when the first survey was taken in 2012 (37 %). While the EU averages mask important differences between countries, it is clear that discrimination and inequality continue to be widespread across the European Union. The FRA report concludes that there’s “a long way to go for LGBTI equality,” with FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty calling on policy-makers “to take note and do more to actively promote full respect for rights of LGBTI people”.  

Commenting on the report, Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, said: “Combined with ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Map launched yesterday, we have a uniquely comprehensive picture of the state of affairs for LGBTI people in Europe, with data on the legal and policy landscape complemented by data about the lived reality of LGBTI people in Europe. The unmistakable conclusion is there are no more excuses for complacently believing that the work on LGBTI equality is done, anywhere in Europe.”

To complete the picture, the EU Commission published today the evaluation of its “List of actions to advance LGBTI equality,” the first ever Commission policy framework. The report reflects on the achievements and lessons learned over the past five years. In her remarks, Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, states that her aim is to build on the success of the List of Actions by presenting an EU LGBTI+ strategy that will strengthen the Commission’s and Member States’ efforts to combat the discrimination of LGBTI+ people in the EU and beyond. 

According to Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director at ILGA-Europe:  “We welcome Commissioner Dalli’s ongoing commitment to present an LGBTI equality strategy by the end of the year. Today’s Commission report is reconfirming that a strong strategic framework, with the highest level political support, gives the Commission the tools to have a meaningful impact. Now, thanks to the FRA survey, we also have solid evidence of the needs of LGBTI people in the EU, pointing to where concrete action is most needed to ensure equality. The case could not be stronger for why an EU LGBTI equality strategy is needed and why action is needed now.”

The FRA Survey, conducted prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, already showed that over a third (37 %) of the respondents indicated having difficulties to make ends meet. As the public health crisis unfolds, the negative impact on LGBTI people’s health and well-being, physical and economic safety, is increasingly reported. This is further reinforcing the case for targeted measures to meet the needs of those most marginalised in society, in particular LGBTI people who experience homelessness, violence, unemployment and economic precarity. 

Evelyne Paradis concludes: “Equality is not a luxury item, something we do when everything is going well. More than at any other time, it is in times of crisis that we need to take action to support those who are most marginalised and disadvantaged in our societies. LGBTI people in Europe need the EU to be a leader by placing equality at the core of its political agenda now more than ever.” 

Background references:

ILGA-Europe has published “EU LGBTI STRATEGY 2020-2024 - Key EU legislative and policy initiatives for LGBTI rights in Europe and beyond”. This document presents concrete proposals of legislative and policy initiatives to be included in the EU LGBTI Strategy.

For comment, contact: Ana Muñoz Padrós, ILGA-Europe:, +32 493 35 60 55